“We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him.”
(cf. Matthew 2:2)
Theme for 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Announced
By Fr. James Loughran, SA, Director of Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute
“We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (cf. Matthew 2:2) is the theme for the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It was discerned by the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) in Beirut, Lebanon, and finds its origins in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 2:1-12).
“The star in the east above Judea led the Magi to the birthplace of Jesus Christ, the one true king and savior,” said Fr. James Loughran, SA, Director of Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute. “Two thousand years later, it still beckons us, lighting the way to Christ, who is the light of the world.”
The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) discerned the theme for 2022 and drafted the materials. An international group appointed jointly by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches finalized the texts, working remotely due to the pandemic. Fr. James Puglisi, SA, director of the Centro Pro Unione, a ministry of the Friars of the Atonement that includes an ecumenical library and research center in Rome, serves on the international team.
Founded in 1974, the MECC is a regional ecumenical organization that brings together the Evangelical, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches in the Middle East to work towards the unification of church visions, perspectives and attitudes, especially on issues related to Christian presence and witness in the region and Christian-Muslim relations.
In choosing “We saw the star in the East, and we came to worship him” (cf. Matthew 2:2) as the theme for the 2022 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the MECC highlights the importance and meaning of the epiphany to Eastern Christians in revealing God’s salvation to the world and showing the unity He desires among His creation. His light beckons us, as it did the Magi, to worship Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and the one true God and to open our treasures to Him. As Christian witnesses changed by our experience of the epiphany, we choose a new path of repentance and renewal by serving the Gospel and keeping Jesus’s commandment of “loving one another as He has loved us.” The theme reminds Christians worldwide to pray for closer communion with our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as for greater solidarity with all of creation.
“The epiphany of the birth of Jesus as God incarnate brought light, hope and unity to the world at a time of darkness and uncertainty,” said Fr. James Loughran, SA. “As we face new challenges and struggles in our current day, the theme for the Week of Prayer in 2022 shows that Christ’s light has not left us; it shines as brightly as ever, calling Christians everywhere to come together and follow the path of Jesus.”
The traditional period in the northern hemisphere for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is January 18-25. Servant of God, Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, founder of the Society of the Atonement, who initiated observance of the first “Church Unity Octave” in 1908, proposed those dates, which span the original days of the feasts of the Chair of St. Peter (Jan. 18) and the Conversion of St. Paul (Jan. 25), due to their symbolic significance.
Each year, the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII) adapts the texts chosen and prepared by representatives of the Vatican and the World Council of Churches and publishes a full suite of print and digital materials and resources for use in celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in the U.S. These materials and resources will soon be available through the GEII website geii.org.